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Arts Speak

Book festival launches in Washington, Missouri, with activities for all ages

Arts Speak photo courtesy of Missouri Book Festival.jpg

Photo courtesy of Missouri Book Festival

Washington, Missouri, will soon welcome a three-day celebration of ink on paper: the inaugural Missouri Book Festival.

Just under 50 miles west of Ladue, that celebration will run from Thursday, Aug.25, to Saturday, Aug. 27, and feature a ticketed keynote event entitled “Fall and Rise: Conversations With Rick Ankiel and Friends,” wherein the former St. Louis Cardinals pitcher and outfielder will discuss his roller coaster career and his memoir, “The Phenomenon.”

Kristy Stoyer chairs the festival committee and says the event “continues to grow as more people become aware and want to be involved.” Stoyer gladly provides inside details for LN readers.

What prompted the creation of the festival?

The idea of the festival was inspired by the Family Reading Night event hosted in Washington, which is always a well-attended and fun event that encourages the joy of reading. The first-ever Missouri Book Festival will bring our region’s most exciting and emblematic stories to life. The festival will highlight regional history, food, music, sports, art and more through interactive programs presented by Missouri authors. Our hope is that the Missouri Book Festival will spark passion for reading while inspiring future generations of Missourians to become lifelong learners.

What particular age group, if any, is the festival targeting – and how is it doing so?

The festival really is [for] people of all ages. We have seven hours of children’s programming taking place in the backyard at Neighborhood Reads bookstore, in addition to other interactive youth activities taking place within the festival.

We have dedicated programs that are targeted more to adults. We will have a veterans-focused panel featuring two authors who both wrote about their fathers’ service – “Jumping From Helicopters: A Vietnam Memoir” [by John Stillman with Lori Stillman] and “In the Company of Patriots” [by Virginia Brackett].

There will also be an Ozark-focused panel discussion titled “The Ozarks in Print and Perception: Imagining a Region in Book.”

What will be the major attractions at the festival, the ones that will have attendees both young and old most enthralled?

We have nearly 30 different programs planned during the seven-hour festival, with a wide variety of audiences in mind. One attraction that might be more unusual to see at a book festival would include our live wrestling event, tied to [Ed Wheatley’s] “Wrestling at the Chase,” a book about the iconic wrestling events that took place at the Chase Park Plaza [in St. Louis’ Central West End neighborhood].

We’re also planning a soapbox derby exhibition race as part of the festival, which will be fun for all ages – the last time a soapbox derby race was held in Washington was 1964. The Purina Incredible Dog Team will be at the festival, tied to the book “Lily: A True Story of Courage and the Joplin Tornado” [by Carolyn Mueller], about a service dog who aided the search efforts of the [2011] Joplin tornado.

We’ll also have a food demonstration stage, where we’ll have a variety of engaging programing throughout the day, including the charismatic Father Dominic [Garramone], author of “Baking Secrets From the Bread Monk.”

This interview has been condensed and edited according to LN editorial style. For an up-to-date schedule of events, visit

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Bryan A. Hollerbach serves as LN's copy editor and one of its staff writers. He loves to read, write, impersonate an amateur artist and research all things bibulous.

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